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19th Apr 2019

Three Irish couples tell us why they decided to have alternative weddings

Taryn de Vere

In a poll conducted by Her, 72 percent of readers said they would consider having a non-traditional wedding.

Three Irish brides-to-be shared their search for the perfect wedding with us and explained why they decided on alternative weddings.

Galway couple Amanda and Rodge say they never envisaged having a traditional wedding. Having worked as a florist for more than a decade, Amanda says that for her, the glamour and magic faded from classic weddings.

The couple researched alternative venues before finding a horse riding centre that hosts weddings. The Slieve Aughty Center, with on-site accommodation and a “relaxed and unpretentious” feel was just what they were looking for.

“They cook simple food from their own organic garden, there are farm animals and wildlife and trees everywhere, and the venue feels more like an amazing relative’s house than a hotel or grand old manor.”

Amanada and Rodge

Amanda was also excited by the prospect of decorating the venue in a way that reflected the couple’s style.

“The invites, the dress, the music, the floristry, the accessories, and the entertainment are all being provided by us, our family members, and friends.”

“I’ve always been interested in finding ways to be more environmentally friendly, but planning an actual “eco wedding” at an eco venue has completely changed the way I look at weddings. It’s guided a lot of my choices, and opened my eyes to how quickly a wedding can become a materialistic monster of consumption and waste if you’re not careful…it’s so easy to do and I am as susceptible as the next bride!”

Amanda sourced her flowers from a nearby organic flower farm, plans to give local raw honey as favours and is drying petals from her own garden for confetti.

“I’m trying to make decisions that are more gentle and supportive of the environment. It sounds a bit worthy and goody-two-shoes but it’s actually been a fun and creative process so far.”

The whole wedding will take place on-site, with a spiritualist ceremony before the celebrations.

Amanda puts the rise of alternative weddings in Ireland down to the changing demographics and social values, adding that:

“A church wedding isn’t a given anymore. I think once the first wave of humanist weddings started, and everyone had been to one or two, it stopped seeming like such a big deal to do something different and it has snowballed from there.”

Blackwater Castle

Lu and Ian from Cork say they didn’t choose to have an alternative wedding saying it chose them.

After an extensive venue search, they visited Blackwater Castle and “were blown away by it.” The castle is available to be hired privately and has the capacity to sleep up to 70 people within the grounds.

Lu says the incredible location and ability to have complete control over all factors of the wedding gave the castle the edge over other wedding venues.

“We were both really into having the warmth and friendliness of the castle rather than a hotel package.”

However taking over an entire castle means that all aspects have to be organised by Lu and Ian, a job Lu says is pretty extensive.

“It’s way more work than just signing a contract with a hotel, we’re lucky the place is so pretty and need minimal decoration.”

Not being able to put their stamp on the venue was an issue in the hotels the couple looked at prior to finding Blackwater.

“The hotels we’d spoken to had coordinators who politely told us that skulls weren’t a regular wedding theme (we knew this), but they’d do what they could with our items. With our wedding we have total control and can have skulls everywhere.”

“It’s a lot more vendors to deal with though, and so many lists and tiny details. The alcohol for the drinks reception, meal and bar, the caterers, the decoration, who stays where, literally everything is done by us, we are just handed the keys”.

Another advantage of a private venue is the all-night bar.

Lu says:

“There is no closing time, and the idea of staying up chatting and drinking and chilling with our friends and family is really appealing to us. There won’t be a residents bar, people can come and go as they please, and we have two full days to enjoy.”

Caroline and Michael

Some people’s alternative wedding choices take them out of Ireland altogether. Caroline and her partner Michael are from Dublin and have chosen to elope to Vegas for their wedding. They’re having a handfasting ceremony in the Valley of Fire.

“We will have a stylised wedding for just us with cake, furniture and champagne right in the middle of the desert, and our vows will be a handfasting while looking out at a gorgeous rainbow-hued landscape”.

The following day they are having a second, Elvis wedding with friends, “followed by hotdogs and strippers- because Vegas is for being tacky and fun!”

Vegas won out over Ireland for Caroline and Michael as aesthetics were a key factor, due to their interest in photography.

“I wanted dramatic and romantic scenery for our day, and photography is important to the both of us, so Vegas and the desert ticks those boxes. I also dislike hotel weddings (and hotel carpets!) and nothing else alternative really struck me here.”

They will have a third wedding party to celebrate with family and friends on their return to Ireland. Caroline gets to have three different dresses, something she’s delighted about!

“It’s important to stay true to what your own vision for the day is. There’s so much choice nowadays for all kinds of budgets, so have fun exploring and finding what is right for you.”

“Find blogs to get some ideas and browse Instagram- that’s where I found all my suppliers and locations.”

Featured image by An Fháinleog Photography